The Greensboro City Council has found a unique way around the North Carolina Open Meetings Law.

It doesn’t meet, but it takes action as if it did.

On Monday, Feb. 12, North Carolina Superior Court Judge Stuart Albright heard a request from the Greensboro City Council to allow city councilmembers to view the police body-worn camera (BWC) videos from the domestic violence incident at the home of City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba on Dec 28, 2023, and the subsequent police calls related to that incident.

That request from the City Council was granted by Albright.

But the Greensboro City Council never made a request to view the police body-worn camera videos and not all city councilmembers were even aware that a request to view the body-worn camera videos was being made in the name of the City Council.

The City Council is legally a corporate entity that can only act by majority vote at an official meeting open to the public.  The City Council held no such meeting and took no vote on requesting the BWC videos be released. The public couldn’t attend the meeting on requesting the BWC videos, because there was no meeting to attend.

When asked about when the City Council meeting to discuss requesting a release of the BWC videos was held and what the vote was on that motion, City Attorney Chuck Watts confirmed, “No meeting. No Vote.”

Watts said, “I have the authority to take action based on the assumption of what they want. If I have confidence that I know what they want me to do, then I do it.”

So the action taken in the name of the City Council was not requested or approved by the City Council.

The “complaint” filed with Superior Court states, “Now Comes the City Council of Greensboro (hereinafter ‘City Council’), by and through undersigned counsel, and hereby institutes this action seeking a court order allowing the limited release of a custodial law enforcement agency recording pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 132-1.4A(g). In support hereof, the City Council offers the following:”

The final paragraph begins, “Wherefore, the City Council of Greensboro respectfully requests that this Honorable Court issue and order …”

It is signed by “Nancy Vaughan, Mayor of Greensboro” and “Chuck Watts, City Attorney.”

But the City Council didn’t respectfully request anything from the court because the City Council never took any action at all about the release of the body-worn camera videos.  Vaughan is the mayor but she only has one vote on the City Council.

Anyone can make a request that BWC videos be released. Watts could have made the request as the Greensboro city attorney, but that is not how the request was made.

So how can the court grant a request to the Greensboro City Council that the City Council didn’t make?